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What Does The Bible Say About The Government?

When we say the word government, one has either a positive or negative reaction. When you go to any nation and ask people what they think about their government or current leader, there will likely be negative and positive things to say. Nonetheless, the challenge of submitting to authorities is not actually when one is satisfied with his or her government, but when one’s government is hard to obey or respect.

(Romans 13:1-7) When Paul wrote the letter to the Romans, Rome was under the rule of Nero, an emperor of Rome known for his authoritarian rule. This is the kind of authority that is hard to submit oneself to. However, Paul gave the Roman church a different kind of encouragement. Instead of saying, “rise up and rebel against the government,” Paul instead cautioned the believers to submit themselves to their governing authorities. Now, this is not to say that if the government is telling you to do something that will disobey God, you should obey. Obedience to God and doing what honors Him is still of primary importance, so if the authorities ask you to do something that will dishonor God, it is the right time to disobey those authorities. Paul did not refer to doing things that would lead them to dishonor God, but rather doing what is right. Take for example, paying your taxes (Matthew 22:17-21). Paying your taxes can be burdensome, especially when you’re in a financially tight situation. However, Paul tells the Roman church that despite the authorities imposing things that are burdensome, as long as it honors God, they ought to submit to the authorities.

Furthermore, Paul tells the Roman church that the authorities that govern them are no accident, as God with all of his sovereignty allowed those authorities to be placed in power over them. We ought to respect and submit ourselves to any kind of government or leader we have, for they are God’s appointed leaders. We ought not to rebel, for doing so is not God’s will. In all of His sovereignty, God will use our appointed authorities whether we think they are good enough to fulfill God’s purposes. In fact, in the same portion of Romans 13, Paul says that “rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad,” which means that whatever kind of government you have, God intends to use it for your own good, no matter what you see or feel.

One of the best examples of someone in the Bible who had this attitude of submission to His authorities was David before he was King. David had an opportunity to kill King Saul while he was sleeping, but David didn’t (1 Samuel 26:9). David knew that King Saul, despite being evil towards him, was God’s anointed and appointed leader over him. We ought to do the same in submitting and honoring the authorities that God has placed over us, whether good or bad. Doing such a thing is understandably hard, but God always makes His grace available for you (see the related article). Even if others don’t, you are the salt and light in whatever nation God has placed you and under whatever government God has placed over you. You are making a difference by being Christ-like in the way you submit and honor the authorities over you; in fact, it amazes others.

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